YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The first day of every new year, congregations from across the city of Youngstown come together to remember the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.
And each year, someone recieves a special award for their work in the city and church.
The songs of the choir had the congregation of the New Bethel Baptist Church on its feet.
The annual service recognizing the document signed by President Abraham Lincoln — ending slavery in the United States.
This year, the church’s longtime leader, Reverend Morris Lee was given a special honor — The Reverend Powell Heritage Award.
Mayor Tito Brown said this is a big honor to achieve.
“Reverend Lee is one of those individuals who’s been around. He’s always been kind of that go-to person. If you want his history on the city or if you need help in the city — he’s that one person you can always depend on that will give you sound advice and give you good direction.”
Reverend Lee has been with the church for 57 years and has spent his time focusing on human relations and civil rights. He led the city through the Civil Rights movement.
“I think we need to make sure that we’re continually working on that message — bringing all segments. Whether it civic, social, [or] religious to the table so we can help rebuild the City of Youngstown.”